The catastrophic collapse of Washington State’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940 launched intensive research into the aerodynamics of bridge design. Now a team of South Korean scientists have identified a geometric structure that can better withstand the complicated aerodynamic forces at play—and they found their…
We’ve all experienced that moment of dismay when we open a fresh can of mixed nuts, only to find loathed Brazil nuts at the top of the heap, with the tasty cashews and trusty peanuts all the way down at the bottom. It’s called the Brazil Nut Effect. There’s well-known physics behind why this happens, but it’s a lot…
Two years ago, a Phoenix-based photographer teamed up with physicists at Princeton University to explore the unusually uniform rings a drop of whisky leaves behind when it dries. Now those same physicists have published their findings in Physical Review Letters.
Scientists at Utah State University have figured out how to make the perfect skipping stones. The secret was making sure they were made out of a material that had much more give than stone.
The idea of separated medications that only mix inside the body at a desired location is an old one, but it’s never been possible with something that can be injected directly into the bloodstream. Made with three needles, a blast of electricity, and a thorough knowledge of fluid dynamics, these capsules are the first…
New Year’s revelers will be heading out to all kinds of parties tonight, and chances are a good percentage will be tempted by the presence of a chocolate fountain—just a teensy bit of indulgence before those resolutions kick in. Perhaps those with a scientific bent could find themselves pondering, just for a moment,…
Spherical Rayleigh-Taylor Instabilities, to be exact. That’s what happens when two fluids of different densities collide under the force of gravity. The pattern can be seen in everything from the mushroom clouds of nuclear explosions to cosmic supernovae. But as science photographer Linden Gledhill demonstrates, you…
What you’re seeing in this video is obviously a sperm cell, except it was made in a lab, not a testicle. It’s designed to show how passive elastic swimming can mimic, fairly well, the motions that allow sperm (or fish) to swim.
A machine shoots a blast of beads at a metal target. The result is a beautiful conical structure known as a “water bell.” It’s significant because one kind of substance (granular material) changes its behavior to act like another substance entirely—and the universe has seen this kind of change before.
It’s like the Avengers of inefficiency. Particles from different locations, having undergone vastly different journeys, all assemble, for one moment, to work as a group to jam up a hopper.
Seals and otters stay warm in cold water because their fur is ideally structured for trapping insulating air. These unique hairy surfaces could inspire the design of new kinds of textiles, such as wet suits that are textured instead of smooth to keep divers warm in cold water.
The drops of silicone oil bobbing in this mesmerizing video do more than create aesthetically satisfying ripples across a slick surface. They could be indirect evidence of an alternate solution to a nagging question in quantum mechanics — one that dates back almost a century.
Usually, drinking fluids in microgravity requires sucking liquid from a bag through a straw. But now a selection of experimental cups are aboard the International Space Station that allow astronauts to drink a little more normally while in space.
If you’ve watched any modern action movies, you’ve probably got a pretty good mental picture of what happens when a person hemorrhages blood. But this, my friends, is the first scientific visualization of the splatterfest. Squeamish viewers, look away.
Good news for khaki-clad men plagued by speckled staining of their trousers from urine splash back: physicists may have found the optimal splash-suppressing design for a urinal insert, thereby creating a “urine black hole.” Urine gets in, but it can’t get back out.
Experienced surfers are great intuitive physicists, able to spot the best waves and manipulate the various forces at play because they’ve spent years actively developing those skills. French scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris are quantifying what good surfers know intuitively by building their own mini…
MIT scientists have captured high-speed video of phlegm being expelled during a sneeze. It’s as gross as you’d imagine. But learning more about how this mix of saliva and snot breaks into droplets, and spreads far and wide, could one day lead to better strategies for controlling the spread of disease outbreaks.
Watch as these droplets zip towards the heated spots on a plate. The secret: the drop isn’t directly on the plate. It’s on a shallow pool of liquid covering the platform.
This is a pretty simple experiment to create nifty interior fountains — although maybe not as cool as the ones in this video. Take a container, like a wine glass or a bowl, hold it upside down, lower it into liquid, and jiggle it around. Voila! Instant fountain.
NASA’s new Space Launch System is going to be the first to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit since Saturn V went into space—but it will also carry 10 percent more payload. That’s giving its engineers an awful lot of math to worry about, and this is what their work looks like.